I think we all understand the desire of those in mainland Europe to move ever closer to a single entity in all matters, many have foreseen this and despite the so called Euro scepticism in the some of the mainstream political parties and general feeling of negativity amongst the public they all either seem unable to articulate a coherent alternative or simply want more Europe anyway.
For many, defence cooperation which inevitably leads to defence co-dependence and ultimately defence unification is a red line but by their deeds we should know them, not their cheap soundbites.
The issue of the possible merger of BAE and EADS and the current governments reaction to it will demonstrably show which flag their colours are nailed to and despite the reported ‘conditions’ David Cameron and Nick Clegg are thought to be in favour.
With EADS, which is largely owned by the French and German governments, set to have a majority stake in the new organisation we will have little influence. One can’t blame BAE, despite their sometimes deserved reputation for milking the MoD’s teat, the simple fact is they have been arsed around by incompetent government defence industrial policy for a long time.
So with the nations apex defence contractor under effective foreign government control the rest will surely follow.
With good, or bad timing, depending on your perspective, the Final Report of the Future of Europe Group of the Foreign Ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain was published yesterday.
At this stage it is only a discussion document but tellingly, the UK was not part of the process and it calls for many things that will cause the British right wing to shit a sticklebrick!
Some highlights from a defence perspective;
There is a need to strengthen the Common Security and Defence Policy. Our defence policy should have more ambitious goals which go beyond “pooling and sharing”. The possibilities of the Lisbon Treaty, in particular the establishment of Permanent Structured Cooperation should be implemented
Pooling and sharing was also one of this big red lines beyond which we would not cross.
introduce more majority decisions in the CFSP sphere or at least prevent one single member state from being able to obstruct initiatives
That would be the end of a national veto on matters security and defence related
aim for a European Defence Policy with joint efforts regarding the defence industry (e.g. the creation of a single market for armament projects); for some members of the Group this could eventually involve a European army.
And there you have it.
What the current government does with BAE, our various collaborative programmes like UAV’s and MCM and how we react to these ‘proposals’ will be a turning point.
Interesting times ahead.